January 16, 2013
Weather: January 9th through January 16th
Skiing Conditions and Weather: The cold snap that covered the Western US this week also visited Tuolumne Meadows and its icy grip could be felt for most of the week. There were three consecutive days when the low temperature was -17, -22, and -21 respectively. This cold snap was followed by strong northeast winds that have left the ski conditions variable, to say the least. There is still some soft snow to ski out there, mostly below tree line, and there is also wind board, wind crust, and a sun crust on the sunnier slopes. The good news is that there is still excellent snow coverage and if one is creative they can find powder turns and good skiing.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the latest avalanche advisory for this area go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and click on advisory. The ESAC site is updated several times a week and more often during weather events.
Triggering isolated wind slabs is still a possibility in the high alpine zone. High winds on January 13 and 14 transported lots of snow and formed wind slabs on most aspects above tree line. Wilderness skiers need to use caution when traversing slopes above tree line. Persistent weak layers can still be found in the snowpack, but until they are loaded with new snow, they do not pose a hazard.
Wildlife: We saw a snowshoe hare this week, and many other small mammal tracks in the newly fallen snow. A flock of red crossbills was observed near Tioga Pass, and the ravens, Clark's nutcrackers and mountain chickadees are still enjoying the solitude of Tuolumne Meadows.
Questions: The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open for the season. There is an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first served basis. You can call the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station at 209/372-0450. If you leave a message we will get back to you the first chance we get. Power and phones are frequently out of service. Contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns if you are unable to reach the ranger station. Come prepared; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut.